As the Red Sox begin their quest to repeat as world champions, there are plenty of players who are viewed as keys to those hopes.
WEEI.com's Alex Speier identifies one that might be somewhat overlooked, third baseman Will Middlebrooks.
"This is going to be interesting," Speier told Michael Felger on Sports Tonight. "I think we've taken it for granted that the Red Sox can produce a top offensive team and they probably can but they need some different people to do some different things."
With Jacoby Ellsbury and his speed gone to the Yankees, Middlebrooks can replace some of that impact as a power source.
"I really think Will Middlebrooks is a giant key to what the Red Sox are doing," Speier said. "He has game-changing power. He has this tool that can really tranform a game the way Ellsbury's legs and Ellslbury's dynamism could. He's the one guy that represents the biggest disparity between ceiling and floor of just about anybody in that Red Sox lineup in terms of he can be really, really good or he could be what he was last year [when he was sent back to the minors for part of the season]. What we've seen in his first two years is so wildly different, to me, he's a pivotal character for the Red Sox."